System Software and Application Software

As we all know, a computer program is a collection of instructions or programs that tells a computer how to perform a particular activity. The term “software” is used to describe computer programs in general.

The two forms of software, system and application software, are vastly different. 

These terms may sound confusing if you haven’t heard of them before, but I guess you’re familiar with various systems and applications. You don’t know what they mean.

The term “software” can refer to a collection of scripts, applications, programs, or simple instructions.

We can now categorize software based on the languages and platforms written in system and application software.

What Is System Software?

“System” software is a platform for other software, such as application software. Application software is inoperable without system software.

The software that controls and manages computer hardware is known as System Software. It also assists application programs in functioning properly.

A good example of system software is the Windows operating system. It allows you to run applications like Microsoft Word using the operating system.

System Software and Application Software

Every computer has hardware, but that’s not enough for programs like Microsoft Word to operate. You need system software to run the hardware and run applications.

This type of software governs and extends a computer system’s operating system. The software on a computer increases its performance, efficiency, and security.

Examples include operating systems, coding languages, etc.

You cannot use your laptop’s hardware (the physical components) without the operating system (Windows OS) installed. 

A computer’s system software is like its mind or soul, while its hardware is like its physical body.

There are additional types of system software besides operating systems such as Windows, Mac, and Android. One example is playing a video game.

Then, a game engine serves as a platform upon which many games can be developed. 

Therefore, it should be no surprise that a game engine is system software, not an application.

The operating system also includes computational science software. This is also true of utility programs, which help maintain the system.

System Software Examples

I will start with some examples of system software. Some may be very well known among these examples of the system software, while others may not be.

1. Windows

Microsoft’s Windows is perhaps the most well-known system software. PCs and laptops often come with Windows as the operating system.

Windows allows the installation of Microsoft Word, Google Chrome, Firefox, and a whole host of other programs.

Most computers run Windows, with 75% to 87% of PCs running Windows. Although MAC is the second most popular operating system, its market share is relatively small.

System software such as Windows is closely tied to the hardware it runs on. 

You won’t be able to run any program on your computer without installing Windows, MAC, or another operating system.

2. Android

Ubuntu is another Linux-based operating system. Its main appeal is that it is free and open-source.

Ubuntu Software Center allows you to download many applications. Firefox, Skype, and Telegram can all be run on Ubuntu with the system software.

3. Mac OS

Apart from Windows, Mac and Linux are also widely used operating systems. The operating system software it uses is the second-oldest and most commonly used after Windows, despite its market share of only 15%.

The vast majority of software is compatible with both Windows and Mac.

4. Android

It isn’t just desktop and laptop PCs that need system software to function properly. System software is also required for mobile devices like smartphones and tablets.

Android is the most popular mobile operating system. Apple’s iOS is the second most popular smartphone operating system, with over two-thirds of users using it.

Android lets you run applications such as Google Chrome, Whatsapp, Facebook’s mobile app, Instagram, and many more.

You can use Android with or without the preinstalled apps on your phone, as it is not dependent on any particular app. 

Nonetheless, the Android OS is not dependent on any particular app and can function without it.

5. Chrome OS

Chromebooks run on a web-based operating system called Chrome OS, which is not well-known or frequently utilized.

Google Chrome and various Android apps, such as the Microsoft Word Android app, may all be used on the Chrome OS.

6. iOS

The iOS operating system is the second most widely used on mobile devices. It’s a great way to run apps that aren’t available on Android handsets.

iOS is the operating system for many tablets, including the iPad.

7. Device Drivers

Device drivers allow the system to function properly and are considered system software.

They make your computer’s hardware possible to connect with the operating system. The operating system cannot send commands to hardware that the driver does not recognize.

External printers and motherboard chipsets both require drivers.

Generic drivers enhance the functionality of a machine or device’s functionality by enabling various components to function. 

For example, you don’t need a specific driver for your keyboard or mouse because they are both supported by a generic driver.

The files that make up a driver are called “system software.” They are not software by any means.

8. Programming Language Translators

What is a programming language translator, and how does it fit into the larger picture of system software?

As mentioned, application software is created in high-level languages like Java and C++. It is common to use this code because it is easy to understand.

On the other hand, software written in a low-level language is called system software. The job of a programming language translator is to translate Java code into a form that computers and their underlying operating systems can understand.

This allows the program to run on the system. The CPU executes this low-level code at a level humans cannot understand.

The device’s maker frequently preinstalls translators for programming languages. 

System software is classed this way because, unlike applications like Microsoft Word or Google Chrome, it doesn’t assist you in completing a particular task.

It is software that directly affects how the system works.

9. Utility Programs

System software includes both utility programs and other types of software. Even though they aren’t technically part of the system, they still play an important role in smoothly running it.

An anti-virus tool is one of the best examples of utility software that performs diagnostic features for operating system stability. 

Firewalls, backup and restore tools, disk partitioning, and defragmentation tools are application software because they are utility programs.

Some people may not consider their system software, but they usually fall under the broader term “system software.”

10. Firmware

“System software” refers both to firmware and to other software types. Software permanently installed on your computer is called “firmware.”.

The gadget won’t function correctly if it lacks firmware. The firmware of your device controls how it operates like a computer program.

For instance, the firmware on your hard drive tells it when to stop working.

The term “middleman” is commonly used to describe firmware. The operating system interacts with hardware via firmware, an intermediary between it and the hardware.

As a result, firmware is considered system software rather than application software.

What Is Application Software?

Application software is a subset of software that focuses on a single activity. Microsoft Word is an application that makes it possible to write documents.

The purpose of an application is to carry out a specific task on the user’s behalf. Its purpose is primarily to help the user reach a single goal.

An internet browser, such as Google Chrome, allows you to perform a particular task, such as searching the internet.

System Software and Application Software

Application software serves as a link between the end user and the system software. It is also known as “application packages.”. 

This type of software is written using high-level languages like C, Java, VB.Net, etc. It is tailored to the needs of the specific user.

The same System Software can support many Application Software installations. You can store this software on CDs, DVDs, flash drives, and keychain storage devices. These include word processors, spreadsheets, and databases.

Examples of Application Software

1. Google Chrome

Google Chrome is an application software that I’ve mentioned a few times. You can browse the web and read articles on the app, and it’s compatible with Windows and Android.

2. Skype

Skype is a program available for Windows, Android, and iOS devices. You can use Skype to communicate with others over the internet via voice calls, video chats, and text messages.

3. Windows Media Player

Windows Media Player is a piece of application software as a video player. Even if it has the word Windows in it, and if it comes preinstalled on your device, it is not system software.

That’s because it isn’t necessary for your machine’s operation. You can still use your device even if Windows Media Player isn’t functioning.

4. VLC Media Player

Windows Media Player and VLC Media Player are both media players, although VLC is a stand-alone application. This is the one for you if you’re looking for an open-source and free media player.

5. Photoshop

Adobe Photoshop is one of the most widely used image-editing software programs. You can manipulate your photos with it because it’s an application, not system software.

6. WhatsApp

You can also use WhatsApp, an application software, to talk with friends via video and phone and to communicate with them from any device. 

Application software includes desktop and mobile versions of a given service or product.

7. Netflix

You can use Netflix to watch movies and television shows on your computer or mobile device.

The streaming-on-demand service is popular alongside Hulu and Amazon Prime Video. You can also access it online if you’re interested.

8. Microsoft Word

Word is a wonderful example of application software. This software allows you to create, edit, and read documents.

Microsoft Word is not required for your operating system to run smoothly. On the other hand, Microsoft Word requires an operating system and has a specific purpose for the user, making it application software.

9. Facebook

The Facebook application software enables users to connect with friends through the Facebook social media network. You can use Messenger to chat with friends, comment on their posts, and more.

You don’t need an app to use Facebook. You can also download apps for Windows PCs, Android phones, and iOS devices.

10. iTunes

Apple’s iTunes software is available for a variety of devices. You can use it to listen to music and podcasts.

Application Software vs. System Software

Let me briefly describe some examples of systems and application software so that you can better understand their differences.

On the other hand, the system software is designed to communicate with the computer’s hardware. Microsoft Word is an example of application software that facilitates completing a task for the user.

The system runs regardless of whether an application is present. The application software – such as Microsoft Word – can’t be used without an operating system, such as Windows or macOS.

The computer must run system software every time it is turned on. Your computer automatically turns on and shuts down once set up and running.

On the other hand, application software can be started and stopped whenever you like (as long as the system is running).

On the other hand, application software does not interface with your computer’s hardware. The hardware’s memory and processing power are significantly more heavily utilized by system software.

Software for the operating system may also include a driver for a device, a translator for programming languages, or a tool to aid it. 

This software is essential to the system’s operation, even though it does not make up its core.

Software written in high-level languages like Java or C++ is typically used for applications, while software written in low-level languages like C is used for systems.

Installing the system software is common while setting up a new computer. The user must download and install most applications since many gadgets come preloaded with apps.

System Software and Application Software

If you can delete or disable the application software and continue using your computer, it is unlikely to be system software, even if it is preinstalled on your device.

Applications are designed to meet the needs of specific users, whereas system software manages the system’s resources, including memory and process management, security, and so on.

There are two types of software: general-purpose software and specific-purpose application software.

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High-level languages produce Application Software, whereas low-level languages are used to write System Software.

Application software cannot run independently; however, the system software can. Unlike the Application Software, which begins running when the computer is turned on, the 

System Software remains active until it is shut off. On the other hand, application software does not require system software to function.

What Are The Different Types of Software?

The following is a basic overview of the numerous software out there.

I have already stated that system software users use to perform certain functions and rely on system and application software are both important software forms.

Both system software and application software are included in the following categories.

Open Source Software

Open-source software falls into a distinct category. The term “open source” refers to software whose creators have made the source code publicly available.

The source code is publicly available so that anyone can look at it. It is also possible to modify the source code to make an entirely new version of the software, which might then be distributed.

Open-source software is not limited to applications; it can also apply to the operating system. For instance, I alluded to Ubuntu’s open-source nature.

System Software and Application Software

Ubuntu is part of the operating system, yet anyone can inspect and modify its source code. Anyone can use, copy, distribute, and modify it in any way they see fit since it’s free and open-source.

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You may not be able to change the source code of some freeware programs because they have not been released to the public. 

You can’t duplicate and distribute freeware like you can with open-source software since it is copyrighted.


Software that is available for free download is known as freeware. The free software is normally in applications, although the system software can also be provided.

You can download and use Skype without paying for it; considered freeware. Numerous other programs follow the same pattern, such as WhatsApp, Telegram, Windows Media Player, Chrome, and Firefox.

Proprietary Software

Proprietary software stands in opposition to open-source software. Depending on your choice, a fee may be associated with using the service.

The source code is not available for you to download.

Malware, Spyware, and Adware

Examples of unwanted software include malware, spyware, and adware. They hijack your computer via download links and shady websites, showing you advertising, tracking your activities, and stealing your personal information.


The cost of shareware sets it apart from freeware. Alternatively, you will temporarily access it while “sharing” with another person. Shareware stops being shared if you don’t buy it during the trial period.

Final Words on System Software and Application Software

The software comes in various forms, from freeware to open-source, and it’s important to understand the differences.

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You must have a web browser and an operating system, such as Microsoft Windows or Apple’s macOS, and Chrome or Safari as your web browser.

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